ARIES "The supple willow tree does not contend against the storm." So says the Shaolin monk advising his young pupil in the old TV show Kung Fu. Let that be your watchword. There will be other times when your best interests will be served by digging in, steeling your will, and launching a fierce counteroffensive. But this is not one of those occasions. If you're as supple as the willow, no harm will come to you. In fact, you'll probably end up feeling like you've gotten a very deep, long massage.
TAURUS The greatest gift you can give right now might be the gift that you yourself were never given. The most valuable service you have to offer your fellow humans may be the service you have always wished were performed for you. An experience that wounded you could and should move you to help people who've been similarly wounded. You now have the power to heal yourself by healing others.
GEMINI Welcome to your crash course at Happiness School. For your first lesson, say the following aloud: "In the next 20 days, I will test the hypothesis that it's possible for me to become skilled at creating happiness for myself. During that time, I will do everything in my power to make myself feel good." Now take a piece of paper and write a list of 10 familiar experiences that you enjoy and 10 untried experiences that would fill you with well-being if you summoned the courage and initiative to actually attempt them. Finally, do at least one of those 20 experiences every day for the next 20 days.
CANCER As of this week, I have written 1,500 astrology columns. Some have been better than others, but I've given my utmost effort to every single one. The horoscopes I penned in, say, 1994, are so unlike those I write now that they almost seem to be the product of a different author. But then I myself have transformed radically since then, so it makes sense that my work has, too. I urge you to take an inventory of the big tasks you've been doing for years. Evaluate the way they've evolved and how they've shaped your destiny. It's time for an expansive look at the labors of love that have made you who you are.
LEO Japanese farmers have perfected a way to grow square watermelons. At the market the fruit can be stacked more easily and efficiently, and at home it fits better in the refrigerator. I suggest that you make the square watermelon your metaphor of the week. What can you do to retrain nature so that it better serves your practical goals? How might you engineer your unruly instinctual urges so as to further your civilized needs?
VIRGO In her book Gender Shock, Phyllis Burke notes that as recently as 70 years ago, pink was regarded as a strong, masculine color, and blue as delicate and feminine. This is one of many pieces of evidence she cites to support her argument that definitions of gender arise more from transitory cultural biases rather than biological axioms. Are there ways you've cut yourself off from potential power because you wrongly assume they're a specialty of the other gender? For instance, if you're a woman, have you been timid about developing your will? If you're a man, have you crippled your ability to be receptive?
LIBRA If you have been experiencing some form of injustice, it's an excellent time to stage a protest, strike or boycott. The astrological omens don't guarantee you'll get all your demands met, but they do make it likely you'll be able to harness your anger with maximum lucidity. For best results, don't just fight for your own rights, but for the rights of others as well. You should also make sure that in fighting the disrespect you've suffered that you yourself don't disrespect anyone.
SCORPIO "You can't wait for inspiration," proclaimed writer Jack London. "You have to go after it with a club." That sounds too violent to me, though I agree in principle that aggressiveness is the best policy in one's relationship with inspiration — especially for you in the coming weeks. Here's my version of London's advice: "Don't wait for inspiration. Go after it with a butterfly net, fishing rod, specimen jars, petri dishes, leashes, sweet treats, juicy bait, persuasive arguments and sincere flattery." And don't fall into the trap of thinking that inspiration is a rare stroke of luck you're powerless to summon.
SAGITTARIUS "Earth is a school and daily life is our classroom," asserts Dan Millman in his book Living on Purpose. Our teachers aren't always experts, he says, but often appear in the guise of strangers, acquaintances, children, animals and unexpected circumstances. The lessons we're asked to master come to us first as simple challenges. If we refuse to work at solving them, they take on more difficult and painful forms. Among the most basic of our assignments is the mandate to take good care of our bodies. That's the most important homework you have in the coming weeks. I hope you'll make dramatic strides in your understanding of what helps your body thrive.
CAPRICORN The language we use has tremendous power to shape our experience. Right now, the words you choose to describe your feelings and adventures will tip the balance of your energy toward delight and vigor or else toward discouragement and apathy. The fewer negative perspectives you formulate, the better your health will be. To spur yourself in the right direction, make frequent use of beautiful words like the following (or create your own list): mellifluous, thrive, melody, luminous, undulate, freshening, reverence, primordial, shimmer.
AQUARIUS There was an indignant uproar after revelations that James Frey's memoir A Million Little Pieces contains fabrications. It prompted me to wonder whether there's any such thing as a completely accurate account of any person's life. My conclusion: no. In every autobiography and biography ever written, the author imaginatively strings together selectively chosen details to conjure up artificially coherent narratives. If you and nine writers set out to tell your life story, you'd produce 10 wildly different tales, each rife with subjective interpretation, misplaced emphasis, unintentional distortions and extrapolations from insufficient data. Your assignment this week is to celebrate the malleability of reality. Regale listeners with stories about the time you rode the rails through Kansas as a hobo, or gave Donald Trump sage advice in an elevator.
PISCES Biologist Rupert Sheldrake riles up the scientific establishment with his theories about telepathy and other taboo subjects. After he published his book A New Science of Life, the editor of the prestigious British journal Nature denounced it, saying "This infuriating tract is the best candidate for burning there has been for many years." The same editor later attacked Sheldrake for "heresy," advocating that he be "condemned in exactly the same language that the Pope used to condemn Galileo." If you're doing your job correctly in the coming weeks, you will attract similar protests from the status quo. Fulfilling your mission will require you to wander into territory that's regarded as off-limits by the guardians of the way things have always been done.
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